Discovering a Florence far from chaos
Discovering the city on foot to admire all its beauty
Dazzled by the marbles of Santa Maria del Fiore, dazzled by the flaming bricks of Palazzo Vecchio, you can get lost and find yourself in an unexpected Florence. Turning the corner there is another world, another time that shakes our emotional center of gravity, making us live an extraordinary experience.
Suddenly we are plunged into a dimension in which we breathe the moods of a city parallel to the glorious one of art and beauty, where the everyday life of the past seems to come back to life and make us participate in the passing of the centuries.
Leaving behind Piazza della Signoria, the Chiasso dei Baroncelli offers a momentary isolation from the crowd in a suggestive urban foreshortening. It stretches from Via Lambertesca to Piazza della Signoria, named after the powerful Baroncelli family, it was also called Chiasso dei Lanzi, after the 200 tough Lanzichenecchi that Cosimo I wanted as his personal guards and who quartered here.
But there is also the Chiasso del Buco, from an ancient tavern that was accessed by descending into a 'hole' where characters of the history of Florence, such as the Magnificent Lorenzo, Michelangelo and Leonardo, tasted good wine. It was not a scandal that the Lord and Lord of Florence frequented taverns and inns to be sung in his verses, but the alley of the Scandal (or Panico) introduces us into the climate of the Medieval internal struggles.
The neighbors, the Cerchi and the Donati, hated each other and feared that at night one would try to break through the walls of the other.
For good peace, an alley was created to divide the mansions, as a sign of reconciliation and a square, Piazza dei Donati or La Corte dei Donati with the house where Dante Alighieri lived.
Intrigues, passions, are condensed in the name via dell'Amorino, witnessed by Niccolò Macchiavelli who found inspiration and environment for his La Mandragola.
If we still haven't lost our way between history and legend, not even by walking down Via delle Serve Smarrite, a stone's throw from Palazzo della Signoria and Santa Croce, where women from the countryside used to gather in search of work and who often got 'lost', we can do so in the "other" Florence, the one of artists and traditions.
Between the Lungarni and Piazza Santo Spirito we find Via de' Coverelli, or "Chiasso Perduto" because it is dark, with the homonymous Palazzo, a classic example of Florentine architecture.
And here is via del Campuccio that runs along the Torrigiani Garden, the largest private green space in Europe in the heart of Florence, whose name recalls the origins of the place used for cultivated fields and gardens until the 19th century when Marquis Torrigiani transformed it into an art and botanical complex.
The streets that surround Piazza Santo Spirito tell stories such as Via dei Velluti which recalls the family of rich merchants who traded in these precious fabrics since the 14th century. Then a tiny street via Sguazza (called Chiasso Guazzacoglie for the stagnation of rainwater) adjacent to the Palazzo Michelozzi, here was born Mona Lisa 'la gioconda' immortal Leonardo Da Vinci. Both face Via Maggio, the street of Florence's antique dealers.
Via Toscanella that goes from Ponte Vecchio and Palazzo Pitti, derives its name from the scientist Paolo Dal Pozzo Toscanelli is represented in one of the paintings of Ottone Rosai, an important figure of Italian painting of 900. In this street you can breathe art since the Renaissance when under a loggia gathered intellectuals, writers, architects such as Brunelleschi and Vasari.
Going up the ramps looking towards Piazzale Michelangelo, the panorama appears in all its striking magnificence. A hilly road leads us in the area of Costa San Giorgio named after the Church dedicated to this saint, rich in works of Giotto. Here, in just a few meters, art and history are concentrated: at number 84 lived the Sienese sculptor Giovanni Dupré while at number 28 Galileo Galilei scrutinized the sky.
A street with a curious name, Via dell'Erta Canina. Canina' for those who climb, derives from its very steep slope leading to the Arno.
It's a very ancient road, it was a shortcut to Siena and Rome since 800. Very tiring, it offers a unique view of the hills, in an enchanted setting, squeezed between the houses and fields and walls of beautiful villas. This area was beloved by Florentine painters of the 1800s such as Borrani, Signorini and Lega. We got lost in the streets, alleys and lanes of Florence, we breathed the air of other times, we found our hearts enriched with emotions and pure beauty.